“Godzilla Minus One is an epic film with breathtaking visuals and a wonderful soundtrack. It is truly one of the best films of the year. At its heart, it is a deeply moving postwar drama that tells a character-driven story. Ryunosuke Kamiki delivers a powerful and heartfelt performance as the lead.”
Godzilla Minus One was released on November 3rd in Japanese cinemas making a tremendous success at the local box office, up to the point that this is the highest audience-rated Godzilla film ever! This film celebrates the upcoming 70th anniversary of the franchise. It will then arrive around the world starting on December 1 in the United States and the United Kingdom on December 15.
This film is not connected to the American Monster-Verse nor the previous Japanese film Shin Godzilla. This one does its own thing starting a new story.
Godzilla Minus One takes place in postwar Japan like the original film. It follows the story of a Japanese pilot, Kōichi Shikishima (Ryunosuke Kamiki). He is the only survivor with the lead mechanic, Sōsaku Tachibana (Munetaka Aoki) of an attack by Godzilla on Odo Island. After the war, he returns to live in Tokyo where he tries to rebuild his life in a devastated world while facing survivor’s guilt. There, he meets Noriko Ōishi (Minami Hamabe), a young woman who is trying to raise a baby whose parents were lost during the bombing of Tokyo. As the two live their life together, the threat of Godzilla coming to destroy Japan emerges.
During the opening stage greeting at Toho Hibiya in Tokyo, the lead actor Ryunosuke Kamiki expressed his desire for Godzilla Minus One to become the “special Godzilla” for everyone. And I will say that it has become my “special Godzilla.” I saw the film twice already, once on opening day and another time in IMAX Laser on November 5. I think this speaks volumes about how much I love this film and the fact that I brought a lot of merchandise home too!
This film is truly fantastic. Undoubtedly, this is the best Godzilla film ever made and one of the best films of the year! This is everything a Godzilla film should be. It’s not just about this King of Monsters destroying cities. At its heart, Godzilla Minus One is a deeply moving postwar drama that follows the story of a main human character. Having a story in which you care about its lead character and the other characters makes all the difference. From beginning to end, I felt invested in what happened to Shikishima, his struggles, his life, and his choices. The film takes its time to develop his story and his relationship to the other characters. In fact, this film unexpectedly made me cry. Bring tissues when you go to see it because you will need them.
THE KING OF MONSTERS
Then, you have Godzilla who brings the big action and this is EPIC. When Godzilla is there, he means trouble. There are consequences to him being there. He is a real threat and one that is difficult to stop. The stakes are as high as they can be. But more importantly, he seamlessly fits within Shikishima’s story. Godzilla’s actions change Shikishima and affect his life in many ways throughout the film. The fight against this monster becomes personal for our hero. The film never loses focus and this is Shikishima’s story.
Moreover, Takashi Yamazaki is on every front in this film – directing, writing, and visual effects. He knows exactly what to do with Godzilla and how to make him a threat. The design in this one pays tribute to the previous Japanese versions of the classic monster while still bringing something new. Godzilla is imposing with his presence but also with his powers. Indeed, his atomic breath is devastating. Seeing atomic explosions in postwar Japan certainly has its impact on the characters and thus on us the audience. The visual imagery in this film is so important. The way these explosions are filmed, the way Godzilla is filmed, it creates strong emotions that leave its mark.
The little signs before Godzilla appears also help build up the tension. It prepares the scene for the arrival of the monster, it sets the tone. Yamazaki delivers a masterclass on how you make an epic film. The end of the film teases a sequel. I want one and I am quite excited to see where Yamazaki will take his characters next.
Furthermore, Ryunosuke Kamiki delivers a powerful and heartfelt performance. He makes us feel what his character feels. He brings so many layers to Shikishima. The way he plays the survivor’s guilt of Shikishima is so touching. It makes no doubt that this is his film. Plus, he is supported by a great cast. Minami Hamabe also delivers an earnest performance. And Yuki Yamada (who was in Pending Train) lightens the mood with his jolly character.
VISUALS & SOUNDTRACK
Obviously, Naoki Sato has used the classic Godzilla theme. It wouldn’t be a proper Godzilla film without this theme! His version brings out all the epicness of this theme. He has composed a wonderful soundtrack. There is a dramatic feel to it because of the topics the story touches upon but there is also so much grandeur in his music. The use of background vocalists is absolutely perfect. It’s the cherry on the cake to Sato’s composition in the scenes they are used.
Finally, Godzilla Minus One is visually breathtaking. Honestly, it looks better than most of the recent $200 million American tentpoles and with a much smaller budget. Godzilla looks so real. Yamazaki and his team have done tremendous work with the visual effects. I am not just talking about the monster himself, but the entire film. It is an impressive work recreating postwar Japan with the costumes, the buildings, the boats… And they also did filming on location like the boat scenes on the sea. The mix of CG and practical effects is incredibly well done! So, I recommend seeing it on the biggest screen possible, it is worth it!
Godzilla Minus One is an epic film with breathtaking visuals and a wonderful soundtrack. It is truly one of the best films of the year. At its heart, it is a deeply moving postwar drama that tells a character-driven story. Ryunosuke Kamiki delivers a powerful and heartfelt performance as the lead. He is also supported by a great cast. Undoubtedly, this film deserves to earn some awards and I have no doubts that it will win Japanese film awards.
Collectables Editor at Future Of The Force.
Star Wars and Marvel specialist, anime expert